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It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m wiping permanent marker off the face of
one of my sons in the break room at work. A male co-worker and his daughter
pass through and, my then 3-year-old son asks, “What are you doing here?”

“Working,” he answers.
“Dads don’t work,” my son replies, “Only moms work.”
Yep, that’s my family!

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and it’s a great time to contemplate the changes that are occurring in parental dynamics in the U.S. and around the world. Today there is a rising number of at-home dads, totaling nearly 2 million in the U.S., according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study. But what’s even more interesting is that not all these dads are at home because of the “Great Recession.” Though nearly a quarter of dads say they stay at home because of lack of employment, 21% say they choose to stay home to care for their home or family. In fact, stay-at-home dads have increased 60% since 1989. And younger dads are just as likely to report struggling to find a balance between work and family as are their female counterparts — hence their choice to be the at-home parent.

There it is. Dads are choosing to stay home or take on the primary responsibility for caring for their children. And as the working parent, I totally get it. My husband nails the at-home parenting role. I attribute many of my boys’ most amazing traits to their dad. They are active, creative, respectful, well-fed, funny and even patient (not something they get from me). What’s more, it seems that my family is no longer the exception to the rule, as there are literally millions of dads out there (working, working part-time, at home, you name it) who shoulder the primary responsibility for caring for their families.

So why then has advertising, and media at large, typically portrayed dad as the bumbling idiot? For so long, fathers in the media have been misrepresented with an onslaught of characters like Phil Dunphy (Modern Family) and Peter Griffin (Family Guy). Could it be that more dads than we realize have this parenting thing down pat?

Luckily, it seems there’s a change on the horizon with the growing trend of “Dadvertising.” The Dove Men + Care #RealStrength campaign showcases the ways in which real dads play a pivotal role in the rearing of their children. And the 2015 campaign builds off the insight: that real (masculine) strength comes from caring. Finally, men are celebrated not just for stereotypical, masculine gender roles but also for their ability to love, nurture and be role models for the next generation. Because let’s face it, the truth is, fumbling with a diaper, accidentally pouring juice into the cereal bowl and forgetting after-school activities are struggles that all parents experience … not just dads.

So, when that same Pew study reported that 51% of respondents believe that children were better off with a mother at home, versus only 8% with an at-home dad, I beg to differ. Happy Father’s Day from Frank About Women.

Dove 2015 Father’s Day

Alicia Hamblen About the Author
Alicia Hamblen VP, Director of Business Development

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